It is very difficult to tell who is winning the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. We have dropped thousands of pounds of bombs on ISIS with very little to show for it in terms of territory regained from them; much like Vietnam, all our government really gives us is estimates of casualties inflicted on this radical Islamic army which really does not tell us if we are gaining the upper hand on them. One thing is for sure though, and that is every time we seem to take back territory from ISIS the Kurdish Peshmerga (Peshmerga is a term used to describe any Iraqi Kurdish armed element) is right there alongside us doing most of the dirty work on the ground. Let’s take a little closer look at this mysterious ally that is helping us slowly turn the tide against ISIS.
The Kurds are by far the largest group of people in the world that have no state to call their own. It is estimated that they number as many as 45 million people worldwide; most of whom reside in areas of Northern Syria, Northern Iraq, Southern Turkey and Northwestern Iran in what was once known as Kurdistan. Their culture is one of the few in the region that is not based on religious law and they do not consider themselves either Turkish (they were once a part of the great Ottoman Empire) or Persian. This kind of thinking has made them kind of outcasts in the region.
Why don’t they have a country of their own? The victorious allies carved up the Middle East after the end of WWII because most of the Middle Eastern countries were allied with the Germans. The Kurds were actually promised an area in which they would be able to form their own country by the Treaty of Sevres which was enacted in 1920. As fate would have it, the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 superseded the Treaty of Sevres and the promise to the Kurds was not kept. This essentially made the Kurds a minority in the countries previously mentioned where the majority of them now reside. The closest thing they have to statehood at the current time is their strong and organized presence in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Northern Iraq.
It is a precarious relationship the US has with the Kurds and it must be balanced with other important relationships such as those with Turkey. On one hand, the Kurds have been one of our staunchest allies in the region not only in the fight against ISIS but also in our effort to topple Saddam Hussein in the Gulf Wars. On the other hand, they have long been at odds with the governments of Iraq and Turkey for many years as they have tried unsuccessfully to gain independence in the region. Saddam Hussein’s fight against them was one of the reasons we thought he had more weapons of mass destruction; he launched chemical weapons attacks against the Kurds twice in the 1980’s that killed thousands of them. The PKK, who represents some of Turkey’s Kurdish minority, has actually even been labeled a terrorist group.
As for now, the relationship the US has with the Kurds is a mutually beneficial one that has gotten the Kurds some well-deserved respect and has also helped us keep ISIS in check in several key areas in Iraq and Syria.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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